Poetry Suite by Sage Lilac

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, December 3rd, 2018

"why do people think that / they can’t say no when God asks them / to hate someone?"


Poetry by Sage Lilac

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Like Ritual

I misgender myself in the mirror
before I brush my teeth

like ritual

like running the faucet
over dry bristles

then the toothpaste
then water again

then list all the things
I imagine other people hate
about me

then hate those things about me

then left and right and up and down
and the small circle motions

hate those things about me

then small circle
small circle


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I didn’t have time to do my
make-up this morning. And the cat
got ahold of my wig last night.
So, I guess you could say my pronouns
for today are he/him.

He/him, as in What’s wrong with
Him? as in Why is He wearing a Dress?
as in…

How about because it had flowers on it?

How about because Go fuck yourself!
How about because…

I don’t know, it doesn’t
make much sense to me either.

I mean, as far as boy parts go
I’m pretty sure I hit the damn lottery! Look,
there’s not a thing I’d like to change
about me, aside from the obvious. It’s all very attractive
but it doesn’t suit me.

I’m embarrassed where I should
feel at home. My boy clothes feel like rags
draped over a naked skeleton
on a distant planet where all that’s left
is cold.

But this dress feels like a space heater.
And these flowers take in my excess CO2.

So, just like hitting the hyperspace button
on a 1979 Asteroids arcade cabinet, I don’t know
where I’ll end up,
but at least I’ll be somewhere new.

And I won’t be so cold.
And I’ll be able to breathe.

And I’ll look really, fucking cute.

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A letter to my nephew –

I never wanted to stop babysitting you –
back when I was working through the darkest
chapter of my life so far,

helping you with your homework was the only thing
I could look forward to each week.

Watching you get frustrated at the differences
between different shapes – squares & rectangles,
triangles & circles – it’s confusing, I get it.

Not everything is binary.

It’s uncomfortable, and it’s
hard to teach, but listen Little Man,
at least you don’t have to deal
with numbers yet –

that’s when math gets real

I miss
taking you to the movies

accidentally feeding you non-kosher
foods, because I’m an idiot.

(apparently Sour Patch Kids are not kosher)

I miss the Passover dinner
with you
and the little Jewish family your mother
married into;

getting the chance to experience
your traditions, like
leaving the front door open –

making an extra plate at the dinner table –

explaining to you that, if we’re lucky,
we might get to meet the prophet
you were named after tonight!

And how excited you got at that,
I may as well have mentioned Santa Claus –
the way you smile…


I still heart-react every post
your mama shares of you, I wonder
if she tells you. I wonder what
she tells you

happened to me, your mama, does she
say I moved far away, or what?

What do parents tell their kids
when someone close turns out to be


A letter to the prophet –

do you kill everyone who doesn’t believe
what you believe?

Or just the ones God tells you to?

Tell me, what did Ba’al, god of fertility
and weather, ever do to you? A lot of wars
start off like that, you know – a lot of
families get torn apart
by things that people think
God told them.

And you proved that your god was best god
through contest on Mount Carmel to
four-hundred-and-fifty enemy prophets.
You proved them unquestionably wrong and then you
still killed everyone, why do people think that
they can’t say no when God asks them

to hate someone? Elijah,

Why didn’t you show up to dinner that night?
What could have been more important?

A letter to my nephew –

I’m so sorry. Mama said it would confuse you,
because we were so close, remember? Because
I used to hold your tiny hand across any road.

Everything is binary,

and it would make you uncomfortable
to know that someone so important to you
could be transgender, better
if I just disappear…

but I still observe the Passover

every year. I still leave my front door open
every year, I make an extra plate at my dinner table –

and I would rather see you,

Elijah –

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Find my windshield in the morning
all speckled with rain – before the sun
has had its chance to evaporate
everything. Find me waiting
in the driver’s seat, not wanting
to be too early to where
I’m headed, but not wanting
to lay awake in bed

anymore. Find my thumb scrolling Instagram
like holy text, mindless, and then
the Rio Grande – eroding a
between my neural pathways.

Terrified of falling, find me

courting the love of a stone wall –
projecting old photographs
onto its face. I have

a handful of rocks
in my pocket and I’m holding on
for dear life. Find me
in Colorado, trying to suss

out some meaning from the loose
metaphors my grandpa left me with.

Find me in the morning
all speckled with rain, crying
just a little –

still alive and wide awake.

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Header image courtesy of Karsten Fatur. To view his photography feature, go here.

Sage Lilac is a trans poet and heavy metal vocalist (project: ATLAS) based out of Portland, OR. She got her start in poetry just after high school by winning both the SpeakNOW Poetry Slam in 2012 and then the Rising Star Creative Writing Competition in 2013. Since then, she has lead many writing workshops/after school programs, been a PDX Grand Slam finalist, and competed at IWPS in 2018. Her poetry has been arranged for performance by opera singers and published in local magazines, newspapers, and of course, her own DIY chapbooks. She loves the color purple and has never been to Colorado.


Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.